MAHOMET — Rochelle standout wrestler Ben Harvey needed a repeat performance against Riverton’s Grant Ripperda in order to defend his title during the Marty Williams Invitational at Mahomet-Seymour High School on Saturday.
Harvey made slight work of his first four tournament bouts, pinning his way through the 182-pound bracket and earning a rematch with Ripperda for the championship. Harvey defeated Ripperda 8-1 in the finals last season, and the junior had no trouble with the Riverton grappler this season, beating him 7-3 behind three takedowns to win the title once again.
“I knew he wasn’t going to do a whole lot,” Harvey said. “He stayed in a good position the entire match and when I had opportunities to score on him, I was able to take them. I thought the match went well, but there were more opportunities for me to score.”
Harvey (29-2) led the Hubs to ninth place overall, scoring 50 of the team’s 243.5 points. Harvey opened the tournament with 50-second pins against Champaign Centennial’s Brandon Harvey and Ft. Zumwalt North’s Parker Monnig to earn the top seed entering bracket wrestling. First-period falls over Taylorville’s Alex Angel and Belleville West’s Ethan Sperry moved Harvey into the 182-pound finals against Ripperda (17-3).
“I thought my overall performance was better than how I’ve performed in the past,” Harvey said. “I’m starting to ramp things up with the conference tournament and the regional tournament coming up. We have some big duals coming up as well, and it’s been nice to see some of the work I’ve put in pay off finally.”
Three Rochelle wrestlers placed seventh in the tournament including 106-pounder Ivan Pineda (15-13), 152-pounder Zeke Horn (14-17) and 170-pounder Bryan Garza (21-9). 113-pounder Weldon Nay (8-19) finished eighth, while three Hubs including 126-pounder Caleb Nadig (26-5), 220-pounder Gavin Ansteth (17-7) and 285-pounder Zack Capes (13-14) took ninth place.
132-pounder Grant Thompson (15-13) and 182-pounder Noah Messer (14-12) brought home top-12 placements from the tournament, with 145-pounder Ethan Tooley (17-14), 138-pounder Keegan Davis-Carter (24-7) and 145-pounder Wade Samp earning top-16 finishes.
Rochelle wrestled its final Interstate 8 Conference dual of the season this past Thursday, falling 41-22 against Sycamore. The Hubs (15-3 overall) went 5-2 across seven conference matchups this winter. Ben Harvey won by fall over Nate Lee in the 195-pound bout for his 100th career victory with the RTHS wrestling program.
“It’s weird to think about because I feel like I’ve only wrestling with the team for one year,” Harvey said. “It’s been three years and we still have one more coming. It’s cool to think about and hopefully there are more wins to come."
Noah Messer picked up a 3-0 decision over Dominic Bills in the 182-pound bout, and Ivan Pineda received a forfeit in the 106-pound bout. Caleb Nadig overcame an eye injury in his 126-pound match against Nick Lockhart, winning by 19-7 major decision. Keegan Davis-Carter defeated Sam Carlson in the 138-pound bout via 14-8 decision.